Updated: Oct 29, 2021
Liz Ferro is an author, a mom, wife, speaker and the founder and CEO of Girls with Sole.
As a child growing up in foster care, Ferro experienced sexual abuse but found solace in fitness, particularly swimming, biking and running. The empowerment gained from sports led her to create the non-profit organization Girls with Sole, which has received extensive national attention for its innovative and successful program curriculum.
Ferro has completed more than 70 marathons; two 50K Ultras; five Ironman Triathlons; and countless road races and triathlons - including the epic and iconic Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco, California. She completed a 26.2 Marathon in all 50 states, as well as on the Great Wall of China.Ferro has been featured on the NBC TODAY Show, in SELF, Runner's World, and Family Circle Magazine.
She is the recipient of the 2018 Smartwomen Award for Progressive Organization; 2017 Community Changemaker Award from the Ohio Alliance To End Sexual Violence; 2016 Medical Mutual NEO Pillar Award; 2015 Perspectives Women Who Excel Award; and the 2015 Symbol of H.O.P.E. Award.
Ferro is also the author of Finish Line Feeling - Running with Power (Perseverance, Optimism, Wisdom, Energy, and Resilience)
Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m a complete goofball, with a partial dark side. I have been an endurance athlete for the majority of my fifty-two years, have run a full marathon in all fifty states, and have been knocking out all seven continents as well. I have done five Ironman Triathlons and lots of Half Irons as well. Most everything I do somehow relates to my passion for swimming, biking, and running—including my books and my non-profit, Girls With Sole. In fact, I started Girls With Sole because of how sports and fitness helped me to cope with childhood foster care and sexual abuse. I figured if it worked for me, it could work for anyone who might need a positive way to channel negative feelings and emotions. I attended Niagara University in Niagara Falls for two years, but graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I have two children in their twenties, a husband, and four rescue animals (three dogs and two cats). I love animals, art, chocolate, coffee, music, writing, travel, eating, running, swimming, and helping to empower young women.
Finish Line Feeling is your first book. It’s being published for a second time this fall, after having been first published in 2012. When it comes out again, what are you hoping readers in this different-but-not-so-different context get from it?
When I first sat down to write Finish Line Feeling—back in 2011/2012—I just wanted to give voice to my story and be able to share it with the girls in our programs, if they wanted to read it. I thought maybe I could help a few people feel less alone in their journeys, if they happened to come across my book. This time around, I’m really excited to have both men and women pick up the book and feel inspired about simply moving forward and overcoming life’s obstacles with POWER (perseverance, optimism, wisdom, energy, and resilience) because that’s what the book is all about, and can be quite impactful for a broad audience.
What inspired you to write a memoir?
My mom used to tell me that I was so crazy, I should write a book. I always found that funny, but then I started thinking about the story I had to tell, and how it could actually help other people…so I set out to do just that!
What was the experience of writing such a personal story like—which includes your experiences of trauma and abuse—knowing others would read it? Was it empowering? Nerve-wracking?
Honestly, it was a bit of both. Until I wrote it all down and described how I used to see myself in my twenties versus where I am today (mentally and otherwise) I didn’t see what I had done as an accomplishment. I was too busy getting through life and trying to work on myself and how I showed up in the world. Writing it down made me realize and actually feel like there was empowerment to be had in my journey! The nerve-wracking part of it had less to do with people reading about my experience with abuse and trauma, and more to do with putting myself out there to be torn down or scrutinized. I think as an adult survivor of childhood abuse, I still have a people-please mentality, which makes it quite scary to have your life, words, and the ability to write put out there for others to possibly judge harshly. In a way, a negative review can feel like a direct personal jab at me, since the book is about me.
Finish Line Feeling is a truly inspirational memoir. Nothing about what you say here—about the real work it takes to overcome trauma—feels inauthentic. What makes the memoir—and ultimately, your voice—so relatable is the honesty and humor with which you write. In other words, you do not try to make yourself out to be a saint. Did it take some time for you to discover your writing voice?
Wow, thank you! I truly appreciate that. I wouldn’t say it took a long time to discover my writing voice, because I try to write directly from my heart. I have a sarcastic and goofy (sometimes dark) sense of humor that I like to use in my writing, but that’s just how my brain works anyway. When I wrote Finish Line Feeling, I felt like it all poured out of my heart and soul. I had no intention of being malicious to anyone who is mentioned in it, in any way, but simply wanted to recant the story and my life as it really happened. I was brutally honest with it all—including with my own crap and mishaps that didn’t always show me in the best light. I think it was important to include the bad parts of myself in order to show how far I came. I’m proud of who I am, and probably wouldn’t appreciate the light I have found as an adult if I hadn’t been in the dark first. I hope all the girls in Girls With Sole—or anyone who might need it—can see that it’s possible.
What are you working on next?
I don’t have anything concrete in the works at this moment. I’m working on marketing the three books I have and would love for Chameleon Girl to be adapted into a movie.
In the back of my mind, I’m toying with a sequel to Chameleon Girl or maybe a thriller or mystery set in the Eighties.
Finish Line Feeling is also available for pre-orders on Amazon.com in paperback, hardcover, eBook and Audiobook (Audible Exclusive).